Rugby doesn’t get much better than a Springbok against All Black clash, especially when both teams are on top of their games.
The Boks have won their past nine matches, cumulating in that hammering of Australia in Brisbane last Saturday, where the Boks took on the Aussies up front and smashed them 38-12, scoring four tries in the process.
The Boks played to their strengths and were brutal in the execution of their game plan.
They dominated the set pieces with the new scrum rules favouring the powerful Bok front row and once again Eben Etzebeth proved to be a tower of strength in the line out with no fewer than eight catches.
Duane Vermeulen has made the Springbok number 8 his own and put in the big hits, took the ball forward and is a useful line out option as well.
Morne Steyn is back to his best and should the Boks win at Eden Park on Saturday, it will be due in no small measure to Steyn putting over the kicks and scoring the points.
The All Blacks will be no pushover at their Auckland fortress. Although Richie McCaw has been ruled out due to a knee injury, the All Blacks are on an eight game winning streak and rarely have a bad game against any team.
Dan Carter will be the general and with the likes of Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Israel Dagg and Ben Smith on his outside, the All Blacks have genuine firepower to take on any defence.
Kieren Reid will captain the All Blacks and is probably the form number 8 in international rugby at present.
There seems to little doubt that the All Blacks will try take on the Boks up front. This is what will make the test match a cracker.
Not one of the forwards on either side will take a step back and with the weather prediction looking like rain, its going to be a battle up front.
Expect kicks for position from both Carter and Morne Steyn as both teams execute similar game plans.
The two teams have played nine times at Eden Park with the Boks only winning two – in 1921 (9-5) and in 1937 (17-6). In 1994 the game ended in a draw, 18-18.
Its difficult to predict who will win on Saturday. However, rugby is sure to come out on top as the two arch rivals do battle once again.
Why the Boks could win:
The Bok front row will dominate and South Africa should come out on top in the scrums. Eben Etzebeth will disrupt the All Black lineout from the number two jumper position.
The platform laid by the forwards will allow Morne Steyn to kick for position and continually turn the All Blacks around. The Boks will play without the ball in the All Black half of the field and wait for them to make mistakes.
Why the All Blacks could win:
The All Blacks are not the World Champions for nothing and rarely lose at Eden Park. Dan Carter is the best flyhalf in the world and if he gets quick ball, the All Black backline is capable of carving any defence apart.
The All Blacks will attempt to play high tempo rugby (weather permitting) and play a varied game of kicking as well as running the good ball. Any lapse in the Bok defence will be punished.
Springboks – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
All Blacks – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Tawera Kerr Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Charles Piutau.